Anxiety And Stress Can Detrimental To Your Eye Health
April 2023 is National Stress Awareness Month, and the focus is to create awareness about the harmful impact of stress. Managing stress is an important element of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It is a globally recognized and celebrated healthcare event observed every year.” Remember that stress doesn’t come from what is going on in your life. It comes from your thoughts about what’s going on in your life”, Andrew Bernstein. It is imperative that everyone is aware of stress, recognizes it, understands the signs, and symptoms, and knows the effects and consequences; when there is consistent stress the levels of adrenaline present can lead to consistent dilated pupils and eventual increased light sensitivity.
The hormone adrenaline can make your heart beat faster and your lungs breathe more efficiently. It will cause the blood vessels to send more blood to the brain and muscles, therefore increasing blood pressure, making the brain more alert, and raising sugar levels in the blood to give you energy. Your pupils grow larger and you sweat. Leveraging your knowledge about stress is critical for controlling stress which can improve mental and physical well-being as well as decrease the potential of aggravating health-related issues. It is always important to do things that will take away anxiety and stress, relax, take time out for yourself, and do fun and exciting things. Make time to loosen up when you need to, and know when to say no to requests that are too much for you.
If stress is continuous and unmanageable, it can elevate cortisol levels and negatively impact the eye and brain due to the autonomous nervous system (sympathetic), imbalance, and vascular dysregulation. Prolonged stress can be one of the major causes of visual system diseases such as glaucoma and optic neuropathy. Severe stress and anxiety will promote high levels of adrenaline (in the body, therefore resulting in increased pressure on the eyes and causing blurry vision. Long-term stress and anxiety will cause people to suffer eye strain throughout the day regularly. Studies have shown that there is a link between emotional and psychological stress. These long-term conditions can increase the risk of cataracts due to oxidative stress.
Stress and Anxiety can cause:
- Vision Irregularities
- Seeing Stars
- Ghosted Images
- Heat Wave-Like Images
- Blurry Vision. A sudden start-up of blurry vision can be a sign may be a warning of a potential stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA).
- A sense of perception leads to panic disorder.
- Tunnel Vision
- Light Sensitivity
- Visual Snow
- Seeing Flashes of Light.
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss for older adults in the United States, is frequently connected with psychological stress.
It is important to note each symptom can have a different cause and therefore may require specific observation protocols for that identified issue.
The National Institute Of Health (NIH) recommends the following to eliminate and or manage stress:
- Helpful Practices to Manage Stress and Anxiety (NIMH)
- So Stressed Out Fact Sheet (NIMH)
- Stress (NCCIH)
- 7 Steps to Manage Stress and Build Resilience (ORWH)
- Your Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being Toolkit (HHS)
The Stress Management Society recommends the following:
- Talk about Stress and its effects – let’s work together to reduce the stigma that is associated with stress by talking about the topic openly and freely with friends, family, and colleagues.
- Share your coping mechanisms – if something has worked for you why not share it? It might benefit someone you care about and, in the meantime, it might help you take your focus off your own challenges.
- Be nice to those who are stressed and anxious – we are all undoubtedly going to experience stress and anxiety in our lifetime so treat others going through it with compassion and empathy.
- Look after yourself – we all need to think more about self–care. Take time out of your day to relax or do something that you enjoy. Don’t forget to exercise and eat well, even when you feel too stressed.
The Mayo Clinic Recommendations:
- Breathing and Meditation Exercises
- Exercise Frequently
- Set a Schedule
- Be Mindful, Be Kind, and Think Positive
- Sleep Well
- Express Yourself
- Have Humor
The most crucial thing you can do when you are stressed or anxious is to make sure you always look after yourself. Make time to relax when you need to and learn to say no to requests that are too much for you. Depression and vision are linked, and clinically depressed people that are going through a period of intense stress are more likely to experience vision problems. Therefore, it’s imperative that you contact us immediately if you are experiencing vision problems due to stress and or anxiety.
The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another (William James).